His Eye Is On The Sparrow, The Inchworm, and Me

What follows is a day-long outpouring of emotion. I’ve been back in Philadelphia for five days, and it felt like the right time to begin to process and document the past two weeks, the synchronicities and the heartache, before the memories fade into oblivion. My gut tells me these experiences hold life lessons, especially the passages chosen by the pastor for my father’s life celebration. Even if I can’t see them all right away, they will be there when I’m ready. I sense that it’s important to not lose track of these teachings, and perhaps by putting words to my emotions I will gradually be able to make sense of the chaos that surrounds my life at present.

I glanced over at the passenger seat and saw a chunky green inchworm waggling its front end through the air trying to figure out where it was. Certainly the cracked leather seat of an aging Subaru wasn’t its proper habitat. We were on NC Route 27 nearing Albemarle and the piney Uwharrie National Forest in the center part of the state. It must have joined the trip when I got off I-485 around Charlotte and pulled over to harvest some mimosa leaves and pods from the side of the road.

One of my fondest memories as a small child was of the hedged backyard behind the modest Fort Worth ranch house where I spent the first few years of my life. My dad, who died on September 1, had made me a wonderful sandbox around the base of a mimosa tree, a magical tree for a child with its fan-shaped pink flowers. I loved the doodle bugs / ant lions that lived in my sandbox. I loved the purple iris along the garage wall; blooms my mother wrapped in damp paper towels and crumpled aluminum foil for me to take to my preschool teachers. I loved the monarch butterflies that paused on the bushes around our patio on their ambitious trips up from Mexico and the tiger lilies along the back fence that shared the same shade of burnt orange. Our gardenia bushes were surrounded by some sort of volcanic stone “mulch” that must have been all the rage in the early 1970s. I remembered their sweet scent when years later I chose them for my wedding flowers, a wrist corsage saved for decades in an archival box under the bed with my classic cotton lace Laura Ashley dress. The shriveled corsage I tossed in the trash as the big clean-up of Ally’s life continues. The dress I cut up to be remade into a quilt someday. Little Ally’s world inside that backyard hedge was a natural wonder, small in scale but magnificent to nurture a child’s imagination. At this point in my life I am hoping to get back to that place where I was when I was four, a place of quiet gratitude. After spending my adulthood in the big city, now a smart city, I’m trying to figure out where I really belong.

I was heading north, up I-95. I couldn’t say I was going “home” really, because I don’t have a “home” at the moment. Yes, I have shelter until we put our row house on the market in the spring. But “home is where the heart is,” right? Presently, my heart is full of holes with ragged gaps that were once filled with love – maybe not the brilliantly burning love of youth, but the mature type of love, a steady bank of glowing embers. My father’s passing brought the reality of my situation into painful focus. I can no longer hold onto naive ideas about keeping the home fires burning in anticipation of a time when the three of us could remake ourselves into some new kind of family or even that my mother holds unconditional love for me. No, everything seems conditional now, contingent on proof of cognitive compliance. Their cancellation of me has been cemented into their own identities. The people who were once closest to me now exist in direct opposition to the person they imagine I’ve become. There is no way to dissuade them, to show them that I really am me, the same me I’ve always been. I realize the framing they’ve embraced since the lockdowns cannot shift without destabilizing the shaky narrative they’ve chosen to inhabit. I am the problem. I have to be the problem in order for their reality to remain steady.

Arriving in my fifties at a vantage point where I’ve begun to see the game of life for what it is, made me unlovable. No one will tell me what my unforgivable sins are other than I have high moral expectations, apparently spend too much time on my research (as opposed to say watching house flipping shows, Netflix series, or soccer games), and I hold a low opinion of Bill Gates and his foundation. Though honestly, anyone who pays attention to my work knows I moved on from Gates to Marc Andreessen, Protocol Labs, and Web3 over two years ago.

Is it because I no longer listen to NPR? Read the Washington Post and New York Times? Cheer for the Eagles? Subscribe to the narratives spun out on mainstream and social media – either side, progressive or conservative? Is it because I look up with concern over the streaks that crisscross our skies? Oppose compulsory public health interventions, digital identity, smart dust, and blockchained cloud minds? I lived for decades in the city of brotherly love imagining it to be a tolerant place where culture and diversity were valued. Either I was wrong or this new normal means diversity can only be tolerated if it conforms to established rubrics informed by “trustworthy,” real-time data flows.

The vast majority of Philadelphians cannot or will not acknowledge there is a game underway. It is a game of human computation where we’ll be expected to perform our humanity, emitting signals in a machine-readable format so artificial intelligence and quantum computers can parasitize our imaginations, emotions, and souls. Distributed layers of smart contract protocols will guide social evolution through complexity towards emergence, gleaning useful patterns and products from our collective actions and most intimate relationships.

I can see this shift will be sold as libertarian commoning, uniting the populist left and right in a long-planned Transpartisan campaign. I expect many will be happy to become “self-sovereign” agents in “play to earn” crypto gaming simulations. They choose not to see the infrastructure of extended-reality being installed around them or consider its origins in militarized behavioral psychology. It feels almost impossible to motivate people to start wrapping their minds around the dire implications of ubiquitous sensing technology, blockchain ledgers, and bio-digital convergence. The learning curve is steep, and not enough people have the stamina, focus, or willpower to take the deep dive. Few want to leave the cave; the shadows are captivating. My husband keeps telling me that I “left him” and that “I changed,” but I would never have intentionally left our family. I would never ask him or our child to become someone they weren’t; though, sadly, they could not do the same for me. My experience since 2019 has been that people inside the cave fear those who’ve wandered outside and come back with a new perspective. Maybe it’s trite to say this feels like Campbell’s Hero’s Journey cycle, but it does. I’m not sure if I’ve crossed the first threshold or am making my way through the road of trials. In any event, none of this is pleasant.

When I noticed the inchworm on the passenger seat, I was on my way to Durham, NC. I’m not up for ten-hour drives and needed an overnight stop as I made my way back north. My father had died ten days before. I was with him. It was just him and me. I held his hand my tears dampening the stubble on his cheeks as I pressed my heart against his as he made his passage. Compounding the trauma of losing him was the challenge of moving forward with the details of his life celebration as my mother undermined my efforts and my estranged child and husband emotionally complicated the proceedings. This was not a time of family togetherness and neighbors bringing casseroles – not by a long shot. A sweet silver lining was the time I spent with my sister-in-law and niece. Together, we put thoughtful touches, Kansas sunflowers, vintage photos, my father’s favorite junk foods, on his life celebration.

In spite of all the difficulties, I know I made my father proud, reading the eulogy I wrote for him and singing, without musical accompaniment, the lullaby he sang me when I was little. Several people told us that it was the most personal, touching service they’d ever attended and complimented my skills in writing and public speaking, asking if I did that for a living. Not as living, no, but as my calling. In the days after his passing, I used my gifts for my dad. A few people who attended even though they had never met my father said that after the service, they felt like they really knew him and what a strong, kind, faithful man he was.

I ordered a subdued white and green arrangement for the altar, with hydrangeas for my mother – her favorite. For the reception table I chose boldly-colored flowers, including sunflowers, a nod to my dad’s midwestern roots. As I was picking up catering trays and napkins at the party store, I realized I needed a few things from the grocery next door. There was a seasonal display at the checkout, pails of floral sunshine that seemed to have been placed there just for me. I knew bouquets of sunflowers would be a perfect addition to the event, so I grabbed three of them. My sister-in-law graciously agreed to pick up vases at the thrift store. She, my niece, and I each made a tent card to be placed on the church-lady punch and cookies tables: “Jerry Hawver, our Kansas sunflower, lit up our lives.” I was tempted to add a pumpkin to the display, because my dad used to tell us stories that he, the fourth child, was born way overdue. When he arrived on October 1, 1942, he was over nine pounds, with a complexion that was a sort of  jaundiced yellow. People said he looked just like a pumpkin. Out of respect, and because people probably wouldn’t understand, I refrained.

I knew that in the future I would remember my dad whenever I saw sunflowers with their exuberant shade of yellow. Yesterday, I was stressed about the future and money and dealing with conflict with my husband, and as I slowed to a stop in the Chamounix part of Fairmount Park on the way to drop off more of my former life at Goodwill, I saw a single sunflower plant covered in a dozen blooms. It was all by itself along the shoulder of the road right next to the stop sign, in part shade. It was definitely not the kind of spot you’d expect to see a sunflower. We don’t have many sunflowers here in Philadelphia, and I took it as a sign. One of my mother’s contributions to the service was to request a solo by the organist, the hymn “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” popularized by Ethel Waters. The lyrics are taken from the words of David in the Psalms. God looks after the sparrows even though they neither reap nor sow; implying that of course God’s eye is on all of us as well. Seeing that sunflower reminded me of the sentiment behind the hymn, that God was looking after me in my times of trouble. I pictured my father next to him, restored and whole. I took a deep breath and calmed down. Thanks dad.

Driving along the back roads towards Durham, I paid special attention to the bungalows and ranch houses. They were the kind of houses my dad was raised in and the kind of starter homes he and my mother raised us in until they upgraded to the two-story corporate suburban models a Procter and Gamble salary could support. I remember how excited I was when we relocated to Louisville, KY in first grade and bought a house on a fall-away lot with a partially-finished basement that had stairs. As a child that felt like luxury! The driveway of the house on Weissinger Road sloped towards the backyard and was perfect for big-wheels races. Those years my little brother and I roamed the neighborhood playing in the not-yet-developed wood lots and stormwater ditches. I remember being fascinated by the quartz crystals in the stones that lined the banks, the crayfish you could find occasionally, and the clay deposits my friend Andrea and I would fashion into lop-sided pinch pots as we sat on a wall by her garage lined with marigolds that made for colorful potion ingredients. Those are good memories, memories I should remember to tap into for the journey ahead of me.

The houses I passed on Route 27 were like the houses of my maternal grandparents and great aunt – houses with chest freezers, home canned goods, big gardens irrigated by wells, kitchens filled with the smell of homemade bread toast and jewel-like gelatin squares (Knox blocks) in the fridge. My grandparents were far from perfect, but as I’m entering this new phase of my life, I’m developing a new appreciation the frugal way they lived. I’ve been prowling online real estate listings, trying to imagine my landing place, even though I know I’ll have to wait until spring when we sell our Philadelphia home. Still, I’m glad to be moving beyond house as a status symbol – keeping up with the Joneses kitchens, deluxe ensuite bathrooms, and prioritizing potential for market appreciation. I have a child who’s grown, so school districts are not a concern. As long as I can find a sturdy, modest ranch or bungalow that I can heat for a reasonable price, I’m fine with 1970s cabinets and 1940s bathroom tile. At this point, they’re practically antiques and I’m a historic preservationist. Maybe once I get settled and put a kitchen garden in, I can prove to my mother that I am worthy of stewarding the carved wooden family hay fork, brought from the Volga by my German immigrant forebears. I guess that would be coming full circle.

I kept looking out of the side of my eye at my unexpected guest. It wasn’t one of the tiny critters that drift down from the treetops by a slender thread, but a plump, juicy fellow about as big around as a pipe cleaner and almost an inch and a half long. It was crawling around on the bag of materials, I’d gathered to set an intention – gardenias, a mushroom, a quartz rock, some sunflowers and matching yellow card stock hearts with 1 Corinthians 16: 13-I4 written on them, encouraging us to have faith and be strong, brave, and loving. I’ll admit to having failed at the loving part that week, losing myself in anger over the abandonment I felt wash over me. I’ve mostly pulled myself together, but I know that what transpired in the aftermath of losing my father, was that I really lost (almost) all family relationships.

As much as I’d held onto the hope that if I was good enough, the people I thought should love me would love me. I now recognize the people whose love and companionship I desire don’t know me anymore and have no desire to know me. My mother was strangely enraged by the eulogy I wrote because it didn’t include her pain. One night she grabbed me by the shoulders, shook me, and called me a bully for writing it. Dozens of kind comments about it had already been left on my blog. The whole episode was surreal. When I tried to tell my husband what had happened, he couldn’t seem to muster much empathy. The people around me seem to want the body that holds my spirit to metamorphosize (or regress?) into another kind of person, a person who will agree to play the game, a person who never left Plato’s cave, a person who will conveniently fit into some archetypal box the media created for the masses to inhabit. I just can’t.

My experience has been that my presence continues to be a source of discomfort in their lives, a nagging pain that must be avoided. I can’t give them what they want, which is for me to become someone else, for me not to have evolved as a human being caught up in an era of immense changes to which the majority of people around me are oblivious. So, I’m trying to ball up the grief of losing my dad with all the other rejections that flowed after that. Maybe it will be easier to process this mass of heartache all in one go rather than let it drag out for years, poisoning me with bitterness. I should probably be grateful for the clarity the pain provides. Maybe now, with band-aids ripped off and my broken heart exposed to fresh air, I’ll be able clear the slate of the past thirty-five years and start again.

On the drive down I had time to reflect on my situation. I’m Jerry Hawver’s daughter. I have agency. I’m tough, but I have a heart. I deserve a life where I’m appreciated for who I am, a quirky but kind personality with unique gifts for those with ears to hear at this time of great transition. I know my dad would want me to be happy. Playing the game, especially the hyper-extended reality Web3 game that’s coming online now, is not going to bring me joy. When I left Seattle, I thought I could continue to play the role of the good ex-wife, the devoted daughter, the dutiful mother. I thought if I did all the right things, if I centered other people’s needs, I could earn my way back into their hearts. That proved not to be the case. I tried to come back and swallow my pride and agree to be an agent in the game, telling myself maybe I could gather insights while making coffee, and travel arrangements, and ordering copy paper for the kinds of programs I’ve been researching over the past decade. I applied to dozens of jobs and got a few interviews.

I try not to judge, because this noetic thing we’re enmeshed in is, in fact, pervasive. In my view, the system considers all Earthly beings to be nodes in a massively sophisticated biological computation machine, the ant computer. Just this week, listening to Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle series, a prequel to Cryptonomicon, it dawned on me that we may be facing off against Gottfried Leibniz’s Characteristica Universalis, a language he conceptualized based on Chinese characters, the i Ching, metaphysics, and calculus. I now think that may be what lies at the core of Web3 smart contracts, human computation, digital commoning, tokenized behavior, cybernetics, complexity, game mechanics, social impact finance, and surveillance of public health and decarbonization metrics.

I am keenly aware that intuitive, imaginative thinking is a threat to such a system. People who choose not to behave according to Skinnerian programs are like nails sticking up, daring the powers that be to try and pound them down. We are sabots in the looms; we are the wrenches that threaten to break the teeth of the gears. We represent the possibility that progress towards digital manifest destiny may be slowed or even hobbled. Climate Millenarianists are working hard to brand their post-Anthropocene “ecotopias” as “green” populist endeavors rather than the corporate juggernauts they actually are. Even if they’re not visible on stage, those in the know understand the likes of Black Rock, Goldman Sachs, Raytheon, and Pfizer are peering out from the wings. The fitness landscapes of genetic algorithms have to work overtime to constantly erase principled dissent on behalf of the sacred natural world and smooth the path towards convergence. Yet still we persist and keep showing up with hearts, sunflowers, and intentions placed to divert the tidal wave of electrical engineering, EMF radiation, nano-biotech, and big data.

After Seattle I created a LinkedIn profile and started furiously applying for jobs. I applied to at least one a day – anything that seemed like it could be a possible match for my eclectic set of qualifications. Mostly I scouted local universities, which is where I thought I could get a decent salary with benefits. For most of my life, academic and non-profit cultural organizations were the places where I felt most comfortable. Only now, on the back end of my life, have I begun to realize institutions of higher education function as gatekeepers to confine and compartmentalize thought, quietly, but effectively, neutering critical thinking. Jeff Schmidt, a physicist, laid this out in his book “Disciplined Minds.” Acceptable knowledge is a currency guarded and traded through esoteric academic ritual. Unacceptable knowledge, knowledge that could undermine manufactured polarization and the trajectories of problem-reaction-solution campaigns, is disappeared or at least disincentivized. The shift to digital life made this erasure much easier. Simply toss inconvenient ideas into Orwell’s memory holes or brand them as “conspiracy.” If you say it often enough, it becomes reality.

Deep in my heart I knew that, but I was willing to try and hold onto the family home, even as everyone else abandoned ship. I did a few online interviews. One job, a museum, had a required health status. Nope. Another was for a contemporary art institution whose major donors were members of the high-finance crowd. I managed to get an in-person interview for an office manager position for the undergraduate division of Wharton, Trump’s alma mater. It felt as if the universe was pranking me. Seriously! Still, I put on my new interview outfit. The black skirt I’d ordered didn’t fit well, so I wore a tan linen one instead. That meant a change of shoes to some cute brown flats with ankle straps. I thought I’d cleaned up rather nicely. I got on the bus leaving plenty of extra time. As I stood to exit, I sensed there was something was wrong with my shoe. I paused and looked up. Another passenger pointed out that the whole front of the sole had fallen off.

I was dumbfounded. There was no indication that the shoes were worn out. There must have been some catastrophic failure of the synthetic substance of the sole. I grabbed the lump of latex (?) and exited wondering if there were any clothing stores nearby where I could buy a pair of shoes. A block away I found two clothing stores, but neither of them stocked shoes. The only shoe store in the vicinity the clerk told me sold running shoes, which was rather symbolic. By this time the sole was falling off the other shoe, so I just grabbed the remaining chunks and threw them in the trash. There was nothing to be done but keep going. My flats were now really FLAT. There was a bit of fabric on the bottom, and I hoped that if I kept my feet under the table no one would notice. I made my way toward the building where the interview was to be with as much dignity as I could muster.

It turns out that building faced the Wistar Institute, the oldest biotechnology lab in the United States and an important center for vaccine research and nanotechnology development. There was a back-to-school event happening outside the building. As I passed, I had the surreal vision of a young woman playing corn hole as music blared. In her hand she held a bean bag. She wore a t-shirt that was emblazoned with the phrase “I’m a CRISPR Engineer.” It had the ThermoFisher Scientific logo printed on the sleeve. Do you remember a decade ago when we were not only allowed to question gene-editing, but in many quarters, it was expected that educated people should oppose it? I took it all in and continued my sole-less walk into the WAR Building (Wharton Academic Research Building). I haven’t heard back from them, but it didn’t seem like a place with much joy.

Someone told me recently that in the Jungian sense shoes symbolize grounding. The past few years have taken away all that grounded me. While I am still in the process of mourning those losses, I hold out hope that there may be a new beginning on the horizon, far from Philadelphia. I just can’t see it yet.

The closing episode of my last-gasp attempt to hold onto my Philadelphia life took place this week. After uploading four video-recorded responses to an HR-tech platform, I landed an in-person meeting with Bethany Wiggin, founder of Penn’s Environmental Humanities Program. Wiggin’s academic background is German language and comparative literature. I found it interesting that she shares a last name with the fictional Ender Wiggin, protagonist of Orson Scott Card’s seemingly prophetic Ender’s Game / Enderverse series. Evidently, it comes from Wiucon, Norman for “high and noble.” When I applied for their program coordinator position, I hoped I’d get a chance to ask the staff where they stood on nanotechnology and the financialization, through ubiquitous digital surveillance, of the environment to address climate change.

I’d briefly met Bethany at a presentation on “what works” government that was held at the Furness Library four or five years ago. It shocked me when, during the open discussion period, one attendee stated that residents of North Philadelphia, a predominately Black community, drink too much bottled water. This, of course, was in the aftermath of the Flint poisoned lead drinking water crisis. I vividly remember the person throwing that observation out into the room, after which a second attendee responded that he knew there were social impact investors meeting at the same time Cira Center a few blocks east at 30th Street Station. He posited that surely, those big thinkers could come up with a solution to the bottled water problem. After the meeting, I looked up the Cira Center event and ended up writing a piece that included Sister Mary Scullion’s participation in the 2018 Total Impact conference. That day the meeting room on the top floor of the fine arts library, just down the hall from the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy (a program that’s promoting next-gen nuclear as an answer to climate change), had been set up with eight-top tables. A young man was seated next to me. He worked for a bank on workforce development (cue those human capital bonds). Bethany was at the table, too. Afterwards, I struck up a conversation with her and expressed my concerns around impact finance at which point she told me that her husband was an impact investor.

In a 2019 Medium essay, Wiggin described the importance of climate strike activities at Germantown Friends, an elite K12 Philadelphia Quaker school. Her essay also mentioned her husband, David Parker Helgerson. According to his LinkedIn profile, Helgerson is a co-head of impact investing at Hamilton Lane headquartered in Conshohocken, just outside Philadelphia. The small town nestled between the Schuylkill Expressway and I-476 also happens to be the home base of the John Templeton Foundation, a philanthropic institution that holds considerable influence through the many, sizeable grants they give towards research in the areas of genius, spirituality, free markets, and theoretical physics. According to Wikipedia, in 2020, Hamilton Lane was the third largest “fund of funds” globally with $65 billion under management. However, a press release from July of 2023 noted that their assets had jumped to almost $857 billion. It is important to note, as we examine the role of signals intelligence and distributed ledger technologies in human computation / noetic convergence, that Helgerson’s firm tokenized several of its funds in 2022 on the Polygon blockchain.

Helgerson earned a BA in political science and economics at Swarthmore, a highly-regarded Quaker college west of the city. The school positions itself as progressive while grooming students to implement neoliberal economic policies. Swarthmore has ties to Kenneth Boulding, an influential economist who with his wife Elise advocated world peace, limits to growth, and was considered an early promoter of social entrepreneurship. Christiana Figueres, a Costa Rican diplomat who’s served as the UN’s point person on climate change and almost single-handedly created the field of carbon markets, is an alumna. Helgerson earned an MBA at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. The program has a strong social impact component, the CASE program, which is why I swung by during my stop in Durham.

I entered Bethany’s office in Williams Hall where thirty-plus years prior my husband earned his PhD. Her first name signifies the Biblical hometown of Lazarus (raised from the dead, which is interesting in the context of regenerative medicine) that Jesus visited before his crucifixion. After exchanging introductions, she made a point of leaving the room to get the printed questions for the interview stating that UPenn’s HR requirements were very rigorous. Each candidate was to be asked the same questions, and that she would be using the timer on her phone to make sure the interview ended promptly after 30 minutes. The symbolic emphasis around time and the phone sitting as a digital barrier between us reminded me of the book “Momo” that I have been reading aloud on my channel.

She wore a striking dress of a modern design with fabric that prominently featured repeated upward pointing triangles. I note this, because of the significance of Platonic solids and Pythagoras’s understanding of the fabric material reality being based in combinations of triangles. Early in our conversation she expressed interest in my blog. It seemed as though she may have read it. Was this why I had gotten the interview? After responding to two questions about my qualifications and reason for leaving my previous position, I explained to her that I cared for the environment, but that I also had serious reservations about the direction things were headed with ubiquitous computing and nanotechnology and finance and game mechanics around climate and carbon trading. I mentioned that Penn was deeply involved in these activities.

I expressed to her how shocked I had been to find out that the ecology movement in the United States emerged from the Atomic Energy Commission. I said it was my sense that Howard Odum’s language of energy exchange, emergy, was a continuation of Gottfried Leibniz’s work – something I thought would have piqued her interest given her academic grounding in German language and comparative literature. Who could have imagined that the “universal language” would turn out to be code? She honestly didn’t seem taken aback by the idea at all. I went on to say that I didn’t think most people understood this history and that we needed more open conversations about the ethical implications of what was being proposed around Web3 and cybernetics within a historical context.

She responded that she thought that the history around the AEC and the Odum family was generally known, however, I strongly disagree. Perhaps within academic circles there might be such an awareness, but not among NPR-listening progressives and the youth who are being whipped up into a frenzy of anxiety over imminent termination of life on this planet. I would hazard a guess that even people who consider themselves well educated are not aware of how MIT, the Club of Rome, and Limits to Growth intersect, let alone Hasan Obekhan’s involvement in Mankind 2000’s socio-technical systems and organizational theory tied to smart cities at Wharton and its extension into Kevin Werbach’s advocacy for blockchain and behaviorist game mechanics.

I conveyed to her that after my father’s death, I realized I needed a new path, to go out into nature and make a garden and step away from UPenn and Philadelphia and what it represented: von Neumann’s ENIAC; John Lilly’s neural investigations; Eugene Garfield’s bibliometry; and Ted Nelson’s not-yet-realized Project Xanadu. At that point she told me that if I didn’t want the position, the conversation was over. She had set aside thirty minutes to talk with me. Supposedly her program promotes public discussion around how humans relate to the environment. Some might say her response was logical. This was just an interview after all. She held the position of power; but as it turned out, I didn’t actually want what she had to offer. I witnessed no intellectual curiosity. I wasn’t all that surprised, but still, I had rather hoped I would see a spark, some glimmer of engagement. Instead, what I experienced was perfunctory, bureaucratic procedure. Check the boxes for HR and move on to the next person in line – all in a day’s work.

Ivy League schools are not set up to entertain alternative lines of inquiry. There’s a script, and we’re not meant to deviate from it. Because if we did, what would happen to those billions of Hamilton Lane’s assets tied to ESG metrics? What would happen to humanity’s march into bio-digital convergence? How would we achieve their planned nano-technological “ecotopia” if there was no data, no metrics upon which to bet? The noosphere runs on signals intelligence, optimization rules, behavioral compliance, and standards for goodness sake. The clock is ticking. The entire climate simulation program is built on oscillation.

Bethany’s phone timer counted down slices of time in thirty minute chunks. But if you don’t participate according to the rules of the game, don’t expect to get your full allocation. The system will show you the door. No one at Penn wants to hear what you think. It’s about credentials, disciplined minds. Remember, the world is a stage, and we are to shoulder our roles in the multi-agent simulation without question or complaint. Our assignment is to act out the script someone, or possibly something (AI?), placed in our hands. I expect eventually, they’ll heterodyne it, Edward Howard Armstrong-style, uploading lines straight into our consciousness thereby ensuring trust, fidelity, and constancy. As someone whose identity was once built around academic achievement, that was a tough pill to swallow.

Interactive Map: https://wrenchinthegears.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/armstrong.png

Before I left, I showed Bethany a picture I’d taken of an engraved bluestone paver installed in the walk between the Annenberg Center and the Penn Graduate School of Education. Both programs have specific roles to play in technology-based consciousness management. It was one of a series of Ben Franklin quotes. His name wasn’t on any of the inscriptions, just the dates. I’d arrived on campus early with time to kill. I passed several of them before it dawned on me what they were. I then went back to read the ones I’d missed.

To be honest, I continue to struggle with my internal storyline. There is a part of me that still wants to do the thing that is expected, check the box, earn the badge, demonstrate my worth. In my dysfunctional family, I was the “good” kid, and my brother was the “bad” kid. I got the grades, the scholarships, the generous husband, and the comfortable row house. Only decades later did I realize that much of my life was an illusion. I’m left to pick up the pieces and sort out what happened, when it all started to fall apart. I didn’t relish telling Bethany that her program was window-dressing for a global signals intelligence operation that would, if implemented, likely usurp all of natural life in the name of saving the planet. But my professor, Dr. Christa Wilmanns-Wells told me that one day I would see it, and she was right. I did see it, and then I found it impossible to look away. See something, say something, right? Even if people don’t agree with your take, it’s important enough to the future of humanity that we should at least talk about it first, don’t you think?

My father was a man of faith and the scriptures shared during his service reminded me of the importance of being strong and brave and going forth in love. So, with that in the background, I showed Bethany Ben Franklin’s quote. She told me she passed it often. Who knows, maybe I planted a seed, so when she walks by it next time, she will think about the fact that we have not given informed consent to the Millenarian agenda being advanced, in a decentralized manner, across Penn’s campus, each department having no clue how their effort fits into the larger program. The quote read: “Half the truth is often a great lie. 1758” How many of us are accomplices to half-truths? What will the results of our collective complicity in this exercise be for the environment and coming generations?

Ok, so let’s pivot back to me and the Subaru driving through central North Carolina. Sorry, it’s late and I couldn’t make a more graceful narrative transition. I tried to figure out if the inchworm was going to find its way into some remote corner of the car before I got to Seagrove where I hoped to poke around some artist studios and find a utensil crock to take back and lift my spirits. Only later did I realize the synergy this quest had with one of the Bible verses from my dad’s memorial service about God’s treasure and clay vessels.

The inchworm seemed pretty intent on finding an escape. I still had about an hour on the road before reaching the handmade pottery capital of the United States. So, I decided to pull over in a fast-food parking lot and relocate this brilliant green messenger to the base of a tree in a grassy median. I hoped it would be an acceptable replacement for the mimosa tree, but the dry stubbly grass next to the Hardees didn’t look all that promising. After I got home, I looked up inchworm symbolism and found a video likening the inchworm’s movements to the need for integration.

This little creature has legs in the front and back for efficiency, but not in the middle. The front end is always stretching out, but the rear needs time to catch up. I’ll admit with all of the changes underway in my life and society in general, the idea of devoting some time to reflection and incorporating life’s lessons seems like a good idea. Some engineers are deploying bio-inspired design to incorporate the inchworm’s movement into soft robotics. When the front and rear legs are next to one another, they make the shape of the Omega. Omega is a stark ending – a door closing, and hopefully new ones opening. Keep this in mind when I get around to talking about Swedenborg and the Church of the New Jerusalem.

When I walked into Seagrove Pottery, I looked around, circling the shop several times to assess glazes and crock sizes. Unfortunately, the piece I chose ended up being too tall for the utensils to stick out properly. Nevertheless, the lovely blue with a slight green undertone is so cheerful. I can picture it making a great vase for country wildflower bouquets in the years to come. As I got back into my car, alone now that the inchworm had been dropped off, I looked across the street opposite the parking lot and noticed an unusual sign or was it art? There was a board mounted on two posts depicting painted plates with birds on them. At first, I thought the birds were swallows, but upon closer examination I realized they were actually bluebirds. Bluebirds are messengers of good things to come after difficult times and are associated with visitations from loved ones who have died. The board also featured a plate with a weeping willow design. Of course, in the West the willow is a powerful symbol of mourning, death, renewal and rebirth. When I got home, it dawned on me that the crock I’d selected just happened to be the color of a bluebird.

It took me a few more hours to get into the Research Triangle area. My first stop was the headquarters of Epic Games in Cary, NC – another installment in Ally’s “scary things coming from banal suburban office buildings” tour. When I arrived at the large mid-rise building about a quarter mile from a strip shopping center with a Target surrounded by gated apartment complexes, there were no signs indicating what the building was. The two entrances simply offered street addresses but did not mention that the structure was home to Epic Games, maker of the Unreal Engine, MetaHumans, and Fortnite, a multiplayer war game developed with capital from the Chinese retailer and social credit scoring behemoth Tencent. There were, however, numerous signs designating the parking lots as private property with closed circuit cameras stating that violators would be prosecuted. The closest place I could find to park was a hotel next door. They even had no trespassing signs four feet into the brush of the swampy water retention basin, I guess in the event that someone decided to penetrate the moat and attempt to steal valuable corporate secrets relating to extended reality programming. I left my sunflower and heart on their entrance sign. We do not consent to your “Sinister Games” Paul Meegan. In the video below from a presentation given on “teaching” and the creative economy at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, which is where I first became aware of Epic Games, Meegan is in the middle in the blue blazer. It took me about half a year before I realized that his insistence that children learn to code his video games, that what he was really saying is that they are going to be expected to build out extended reality. All our lives will be managed by game mechanics.

Source: https://www.gamesindustry.biz/epic-games-hires-paul-meegan-to-lead-product-development


Source: https://www.investopedia.com/news/how-tencent-changed-fortnite-creator-epic-games-fortunes/



Next, I went to the campus of NC State in Raleigh, Engineering Building II on the Centennial Campus where Donald Bitzer of the PLATO educational technology and social networking system landed after departing the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. I left a sunflower and heart in a flower bed by the sign for the building. An informative book on the history of PLATO and its ties to social networks funded by the Office of Naval Research is Brian Dear’s “The Friendly Orange Glow.” I keep saying we have to understand that extended reality is intrinsically linked to Cold War simulation technologies, game theory, and emergence. Joseph Gonzalez, aka Bantam Joe, has said that there is a revolving door between the military and video game design. He saw it firsthand as a veteran who held an industrial top security clearance and carried out electrical engineering work for the US Army and Air Force. Gonzalez worked in Cary, NC for Imagic and Random Games in the late 1990s where he developed player leaderboards, 3D terrain design, and refined the use of artificial intelligence in game engines.

Source: http://friendlyorangeglow.com/

I drove about twenty minutes farther on to the Research Triangle Hub, where according to the interwebs, the Army Research Lab occupies building 800. Originally, I was trying to locate the home of O*Net, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Information Network, which I’m guessing will be the backbone of the “cradle to career” platform gig economy / human capital speculation / cybernetic social coordination pipeline. There was no address given, except for O*Net’s consulting partner Research Triangle (again with the triangles) Institute (RTI). Playing around with the symbolic nature of the program’s name, I imagine that the “O” could represent a cell, a holonic unit with a semi-permeable membrane, that functions as part of a digital NETwork of social computation.

Many critics of the government’s planned economy / future of work policies would simply slap on the label “socialist” or “communist.” When I identified as progressive, I saw O*Net as a program enabling big business to control labor markets behind the scenes through public-private partnerships. I now recognize the flaws in both ways of thinking. While situating our critiques within established political and philosophical ideologies may be comforting, it’s not going to bring us any closer to understanding the true nature of the problem. In fact, sticking with the team we’ve chosen, whichever side, only serves to obscure the mathematical aspects of the social control grid that is being used in tandem with sophisticated game mechanics to remake our lives and relationships.

Ultimately, the trajectory of Web3 is to bring together both sides of the political spectrum under the banner of digital progress, renewed democracy, choice, and a type of freeDOM that will be mediated by emerging technologies, smart contract protocols. It’s only once we can get a view above the ideological lenses we’ve been using that we will be able to see the labyrinth we’ve been wandering around in for most of our lives. RTI carries out high-level multidisciplinary consulting for the government to ‘improve the human condition,’ cough, cough; but, being short on time and sunflowers, I skipped it and went on to the Army Research Office.

Source: https://littlesis.org/org/355267-Occupational_Information_Network_(ONET)
Source: https://www.rti.org/
Source: https://www.arl.army.mil/who-we-are/aro/

Something did catch my eye opposite the entrance to Building 800. It was a citizen science installation of several beehives painted a bright blue and ornamented with a hexagonal comb pattern, emblazoned with the word “Frontier.” All around were signs encouraging people to live at “the hub.” Again, consider the language here – a hub is the central part of the wheel and shares imagery with nodes in distributed computing. Now, I’m skeptical of all the hubbub around fifteen-minute cities right now, because it seems like a swarm mind virus campaign that could be used to tag, trace, and predict social network behaviors. That said, it is clear to me that the goal for the redevelopment of this scientific research hub, a place with a concentration of biotech and agritech firms, was to be a geographically-defined, mixed use node where people would “live, work, shop, and play!” Signs and lobby displays offered exuberant depictions of smart suburban living options for those who agreed, knowingly or not, to help engineer the bio-physical game mechanics of noetic convergence.

Source: https://hub.rtp.org/

In looking for a cheap place to stay near Duke’s campus, I accidentally ended up at Taberna, an Airbnb operating out of the Fleishman Chabad House. The logo had a prominent “T” that reminded me of a Tau cross. The building had formerly been the King’s Daughter’s House, a Christian charity respite for elderly women, which felt sadly appropriate. The large colonial structure stood between Gloria and Minerva Avenues. A parking lot branched off Alley 16. The latter is unusual name for a street name, and I’m open to hearing your thoughts about the possible significance of the number sixteen. During my trip, I’d been listening to audiobooks of Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, prequels to Cryptonomicon. One of the plot lines in “Quicksilver” involved a seventeenth-century pirate-hunting ship named the Minerva. The protagonist of Stephenson’s book was named Daniel Waterhouse who read from the Book of Daniel. When I arrived, seemingly the sole guest in the huge house, a young guy offered to help me with my cumbersome duffel since there was no elevator and my room was up three flights of stairs. He told me that he was the building manager, and his name was Daniel.


Julius Stulman, of the Foundation for Integrated Education, was a key early supporter of Chabad in the United States. Chabad is a Hasidic philosophy that emphasizes Jewish mysticism and contemplative prayer, including incorporation of the teachings of Kabbalah into daily life. The Duke Chabad house was named for Joel Fleishman, a professor recruited from Yale by Terry Sanford, then the president of Duke, to launch the university’s school of public policy. Now retired, Fleishman remains involved with the Foundation Research Impact Group, an effort to measure the effectiveness of philanthropy. The rambling building was located across the street from East Campus on Buchanan Avenue. Buchanan was likely named for James Buchanan Duke who founded the American Tobacco Company, launched industrialized cigarette production with mechanized tobacco roller factories, and devised modern marketing tactics to expand the market for his products. In addition to tobacco, Duke also made a fortune in electricity Today Duke Power is a prominent supporter of smart city development in the South. I find this interesting given Michael Levin’s research into bioelectricity, morphogenesis, and personalized medicine.

I settled into my room, which was comfortable despite the strangeness of the setting. The bed had a large, upholstered headboard covered with a botanical print. In fact, this same fabric was used throughout – on the curtain cornices, the loveseat, two slipper chairs, and an upholstered bench. Gradually it dawned on me that the featured plant with coral flowers was nicotiana tabacum – the type of tobacco that was grown for human consumption. A subtropical plant, tobacco has been used for medicinal and spiritual purposes in many cultures of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa. It was the Duke family that led the industrialization of this plant for mass consumption. I realized later that the prints over the love seat were stark black and white depictions of contorted topiaries – decidedly unnatural and in keeping with the current push for synthetic biology, sold to us as “bio-inspired design.”

One more synchronicity is that on the day I left Philadelphia for Charlotte, I noticed two nicotiana plants in the narrow planting strip of the small school next door to our family’s house. I used to garden on that plot years ago when the building was vacant and I’d planted some tobacco back in the day. Those seeds have real staying power and would sometimes opportunistically pop up in the cracks in the sidewalk. That morning for some reason I happened to look down, and where usually there were pansies or mums, I saw the tobacco. I instinctively picked one leaf and put it in the outer pocket of my backpack and promptly forgot about it. That was until my mother and I were readying ourselves to leave my father’s hospice room after his passing. I couldn’t find my keys anywhere. I ended up taking everything out of my backpack, including the tobacco leaf. Then I found my keys had slid down in an inside pocket. I folded up the leaf and placed it under my father’s folded hands to accompany him on his journey.

One of the primary reasons I decided to stop over in Durham was to see the three locations of the labs run by J.B. Rhine and his successors. Rhine started out getting his PhD in botany. This makes me think about the rising prominence of plant medicine and how the intelligence of sacred plants is being used to create pathways into altered states of consciousness. Could it be that through the use of sophisticated remote neural monitoring techniques, people under spiritual influence with their embodied intelligence, could be used as tools to access, secure, and bring back information that would be inaccessible under normal conditions? I can’t prove it, but I keep turning this concept of digitally-mediated mediumship over in my mind, its possible overlap with the human potential movement, distributed cognition, and blockchained group mind. This topic is getting a lot of attention lately with the move towards adoption of hallucinogenic substances to “treat” addiction. It also brings to mind Kevin “Green Pill” Owocki’s references to Michael Pollan’s thesis from “The Botany of Desire” that plants may in fact be cultivating humans rather than the other way around.

Rhine pioneered scientific evaluation of psychic activities, including extra-sensory perception. Among his colleagues was Margaret Mead, who held an interest in the psychic potential of precognition and remote viewing. Conrad Hilton Rice, a collaborator with Oliver Reiser whose theories were featured in “World Sensorium,” corresponded with J.B. Rhine. For three and a half decades starting in 1930, Rhine worked in the West Building of Duke’s East Campus. In 1965, the institute changed its name to the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man and moved across Buchanan Street to the intersection with Trinity Avenue. That building would later by acquired by the Catholic Church. The Rhine Research Center, is still operating less than a mile from Duke’s medical research campus.

By the time I arrived at the West Building, the sun was starting to go down. The angle of the light made it hard to find a good place to take a photo, so I walked all the way around the building. As I came around front, I caught a glimpse of blue in a young willow oak and saw it was a bluebird. That bluebird was joined by second and then a third. I was surprised to see this cheerful group out at dusk. There was no doubt in my mind that they were bluebirds, not the swallows I expected to see. I remembered the bluebird sign from Seagrove earlier that day. The trio flitted from tree to tree before landing high in the branches of a majestic old oak. At its base I set my intention for my dad, that we stay connected so he might continue to guide me as I navigate the choppy waters ahead.

Source: https://maps.app.goo.gl/2oG2LfAExGzZvAreA

My final two stops were at Duke’s Fuqua Business School, home to the CASE social impact program, and the Nicolelis Neurobiology Lab on the medical research campus where experiments were done using data from monkey brains and kinematic sensors in Durham to remotely “walk” a bi-pedal Sarcos robot in Kyoto Japan. Adjacent to Fuqua was the law school, where Nita Farahany, bioethicist and WEF spokesperson for a future where a person’s thoughts are no longer private, is based. The Sanford Social Policy School, where Joel Fleishman was based, sits directly across from the law school. There are profound implications for these technologies, not only due to their Frankenstein-like nature, but for globalized remote haptic labor and synthetic telepathy. For me, this work appears to be an extension of Rhine’s investigations with the addition of sophisticated electrical engineering technologies and nano-biosensors.

There are so many things we should be talking about, but it feels like it’s practically impossible to cut through the noise and manufactured influencer distractions. Nevertheless, I continue my investigations, mapping relationships across time and space. I do site visits where I assert that the public has in fact NOT given informed consent to gamified consciousness engineering. I keep at it because I feel driven to understand for myself how we got here. I’m trying to imagine where we may be going as a society if our collective consciousness ends up harnessed to some artificial, decentralized, cybernetic guidance system. I’ve come to realize over the past few years that it is actually impossible for any one person to know “the truth” with any degree of certainty. There’s simply too much information for us to hold and evaluate all once, lifetimes upon lifetimes of details that could be woven into patterns shaping our worldviews. And yet, I also sense we are in a spiritual struggle, and there are lessons out there waiting for me to learn. I guess you could imagine it as a magnificently expansive independent study.

I am choosing to hold the belief that my father’s passing, as painful as it is, will teach me to be a better person in the days, months, and years to come. It’s all connected. I’m just not sure how yet. The homily for my father’s life celebration featured a passage on The New Jerusalem, the Alpha and Omega, a time when all tears and pain would be wiped away along with the old ways of being. My mother had suggested the verse, only she’d mistakenly transposed the numbers when she told the pastor. Instead of Revelations 21, she’d said 12. He was taken aback, saying that probably wasn’t it, because Revelations 12 has to do with the whore of Babylon and a dragon sweeping stars from the sky.

That holds a certain resonance with me, because Johannes Kelpius and the monks of the Wissahickon came to Germantown, outside of Philadelphia to wait for the woman of the wilderness, the woman described in Revelations 12. Emanuel Swedenborg’s Church of the New Jerusalem was centered on Revelations 21. Swedenborg was a Swedish mystic who walked the realms. Both Andrew Carnegie, whose fortune and “philanthropic” activities have been leading up to the noosphere for the past century and a half and the Pitcairn family, of PPG plate glass, both attended Pittsburgh’s Swedenborgian church growing up. Swedenborg’s writings influenced the development of transpersonal psychology as well as Jung. He also popularized the motif of the vagina dentata, the sacred feminine as a threatening presence. The Pitcairns built a cathedral for the Church of the New Jerusalem in Bryn Athyn, about a half-hour north of Philadelphia. They also constructed a museum, situated among several mansions on the glass-maker’s large estate, to house Swedenborg’s papers. The logo of the church, an intertwined Alpha and Omega, can be seen in the site’s wayfinding signs and a topiary boxwood hedge. As it turns out, I’d just added Swedenborg to my San Patrignano map, associated with Carnegie and Carnegie-Mellon. It felt surreal to have all of these unexpected connections popping off in the context of my father’s send off.

Interactive Map: https://embed.kumu.io/b01bca361055b96fd40a921dbdb2fa11#untitled-map?s=bm9kZS1DdzI3VjdJMQ%3D%3D

My sister-in-law and I didn’t want the gathering in his honor to be a sad affair. We hatched a plan to create a festive table setting featuring dad’s favorite junk foods with an invitation offered in fun bubble letters to “dig in”: Diet Coke, taquitos, peanut M&Ms, Hershey bars, and cheese curls. After meeting with the pastor we went stopped at Sam’s Club to pick up a few boxes of the frozen taquitos he used to crave. When we walked into the store there was a seasonal display of Halloween items, including a huge lit up animatronic dragon, which was a strange coincidence given our conversation not an hour earlier about the passage from Revelations 12:3 “Then another sign appeared in heaven, an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its head. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.”

The day of his memorial we went back to the store to pick up steaks, to be eaten in his honor with a bourbon toast. My dad loved grilling steaks and Wild Turkey 101. Over in the refrigerator section was a sample stand. The featured sample of the day was taquitos. I told the woman staffing the booth that we’d just come from my father’s memorial and that we’d had two platters of taquitos to share. She said it made her very happy to hear it.

The understandings I hold have unexpectedly made me a social dissident. It’s hard to imagine the world turning upside down in the course of just a few years. The fitness landscape of Web3 has little tolerance for square pegs in a universe of round nodes. The time has come for reinvention, and when I look back, I hope I will see that this terrible year was a tough-love gift in disguise. As much as I miss my dad, he wasn’t available to me during the last years of his life. I lived at a distance, my mother didn’t want me around, and our communication was limited by his hearing loss and dementia. Now, on this part of my journey, I picture him restored in heaven keeping me company from an angelic distance. I sense we have an energetic bond, heart signals shared across a hospice bed. I close my eyes and feel his bear hugs across the dimensions. I don’t have a husband or child to hug me anymore, so that will have to be enough. God has his eye on the sparrow and on the inchworm and on me, too.

Below are the passages read during the memorial service. I’m sharing them here, because as this journey unfolds, I suspect I’ll be referring to them for guidance and comfort. Another hymn chosen by my mother for the program was “Lord of the Dance,” sung to the Shaker tune of “Simple Gifts.” My dad loved Elvis and the oldies, and the ideals of being simple and free seem perfectly suited to this moment in time.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for bluebirds and sunflowers dad. I miss you.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Psalm 139: 1-18

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your spirit? Or where shall I flee your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea and even there your hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day for darkness is as light with you.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works. My soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

Isaiah 40

Hast thou not known? Hast though not heard that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the Earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

2 Corinthians 4: 7-10

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

2 Corinthians 4: 16-5

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

1 Corinthians 16: 13-14

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith, be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.

Revelation 21: 1-6

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy city, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell among them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ” I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.”

Proverbs 10:9

Whoever walks in integrity walks security, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

Proverbs 16:3

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Proverbs 16: 6

By mercy and truth iniquity is purged, and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.

Proverbs 20: 6

Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness; but a faithful man, who can find?

Galatians 6: 9-10

And let us not be weary in well doing for in due season, we shall reap if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

31 thoughts on “His Eye Is On The Sparrow, The Inchworm, and Me

  1. Michael says:

    Try not to despair, Alison. Life has been savagely cruel to you recently, but half of yours still lies ahead and the world cries out for crusaders like you at this dark, terrible time for humanity. Please continue your mission as an almost solitary voice in the wilderness. More of us hear you than you probably think and you are helping us move towards the light of enlightenment. You are loved, respected and admired by many whose names and faces you will probably never know but will always be thankful for your presence on our beautiful, suffering Earth.

  2. Jolyon Denton-Williams says:

    Wow…I wasn’t expecting to read this on waking this morning and boy does it reverberate with me. Indeed you are a kindred spirit and definitely not alone. I wish I could write in such an eloquent fashion, so salute you, if only for that, but there is much more I relate to. I love the way you interweave your personal journey, the loss of your father and observations of nature with events unfolding around us, to us, shaping every moment of our life, whether we are fully aware of it or not. I resonate with your thoughts on Swedenborg, hallucinogenics, the Human Potential Movement and Quaker influences, but also the Club of Rome, MIT and other spurious agendas. Thank you for sharing your personal thoughts and I look forward to further reflections.

  3. John says:

    Just letting you know that I read this today and it struck me that I feel much the same way as a fellow semi-activist. I too have lost many connections along the way due to misunderstandings and confrontations with people, including family members, who were unwilling to listen, dialogue or communicate about important contemporary issues, or to accept me as I am. I wish you many new meaningful friendships and connections with people who appreciate your honesty and courage and strength and your dedication to those principles and to the Earth and ethics. It is a confusing and dangerous time to be alive, what with nanotechnology, pollution, surveillance, AI, novel weaponry, technology and ideology. There is also a great deal of pressure to think and act in certain ways. Take good care of yourself Those are some amazing synchronicities you experienced recently by the way. I also had a connection to birds during a similar time in my life a few years ago, and it can bring a lot of joy and comfort and meaningfulness to life; something society has generally lost since the advent of modernity, which has made people more like machines who follow synthetic standardizations (or algorithims) of behavior, which can take the magic out of living. Here is to hoping that the more things tend toward one extreme or another, the more likely it becomes that a reversal of such extremes will take place.

    • AliceEm says:

      I feel that about the possibility of a pendulum swing.

      Incidentally, I read this on an airplane to Philly. It’s the first time I’ve been on a plane in 13 years, since my little boy was 1 and and we flew from Houston back home to Ky when my mom remarried. This time, I was squeezed on a little plane at the last half minute to this city after my booked route connection was delayed. I used to work at a sandwich shop in this airport, after graduating in 07 and coming to live with a college boyfriend just in time for the crash of 08. I finished your essay Allison reading the Bible quotes just before I blackened my phone screen for the moment of touchdown. I’m on my way to attend and speak at the conference of the ‘small grant pool’ ‘partnership meeting’ for the climate-smart commodities program. I’m redirecting a marketing panel to consider regional ag processing and land that’s too hilly and stubborn to let AI drive, heritage food skills as a ‘market development’ tactic. Anyway, I know what I’m in and what I’m trying to do and have found your analysis and that of siliconicarus invaluable as I’ve been walking this fine line through troubled waters. Godspeed to you!

  4. steve kelly says:

    You are always welcome here, in Bozeman, Montana. Headwaters. Untrammeled land, and the occasional untrammeled mind. I grew up in Swarthmore, but needed more freedom than what was being offered. Too much animal in me, not enough ‘domestication,’ I suppose. Left in 1967. Here is where you could write your first book. I would be your first customer. Others would read it too. One way (self-employment) to break out of the master-slave conundrum. Stay amazing. And as John Trudell would say ‘remember….’ Bonne chance.

    steve k

  5. Mehrtash says:

    I wonder if you could create a position for yourself as Cory Doctorow‘s research assistant for future novels? If he doesn’t already know about you, he should.

  6. Thomas Juette says:

    We love you Alison. Stay strong. Things will get better: “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

  7. Robin Eleanor says:

    So lovely. I am so moved by your account. It is through dying we are reborn. This month, my daughter, estranged for 8 years, called me to let me know that her father, my first husband had passed. I am undone, emotionally more fragile than I would have thought. I hold to the thought that in honoring my grief, I move through to a new phase. Vivid dreams recently have completed a vision cycle of 50 years. Big hugs, sister. Your steps create the path. You are a beacon in the darkness. I love the account of your soulless walk to the interview. From my perspective, you are young, you do not need benefits, or a corporate job. Let it go, and see what comes to you. We have a future to create.

  8. Stephanie says:

    Dear, beautiful soul: I stop by, again, to say that I care. I empathize. My heart aches for you, and also, I rejoice in who you are.

    During my family’s 2020 implosion, my father was a huge presence in all that happened. He died, on March 16, 2022. So much of that part of my experience parallels yours, in ways. This helps me care, and feel, for you.

    I’m grateful for this blog, and your work. I think of you often, and pray for you.



    By the way, I was touched by your eulogy, and thought your ideas in the service were lovely. Also by the way, I’ve moved from Texas to Kentucky.


  9. IAn says:

    Couldn’t have been written more eloquently with reverberations on all levels. Such a triumph in life’s perpetual motion to be able to convey these words with such clarity.

  10. Anna says:

    Wow…such powerful passages from Scripture (including my favorite Psalm 139)…what a blessing and an honor for your father at his memorial service. May his memory be eternal!

    Thank you for writing…thank you for writing for all of us. So many of us have been through such hard family transitions since Covid and you have been given a great gift to give voice to our sorrow, confusion and grief. My family has experienced tragic division over my choice to pursue an alternative medical pathway in response to a crisis of chronic disease. Unfortunately, the hard realities Covid further widened and deepened this canyon. God only knows what pathway through might unite us again. While our stories exist at different levels of details, the common theme weaves through all of them…how our priorities differ so widely even between blood relatives and how hard people will fight just to fit in to any group.

    It seems that God has given the gracious gift to some of us to stare the pain and horrifying direction of our modern world in the face and not flinch away. To see the manipulative lies planned out in all types of directions and pathways. “Is it really that bad?” our friends plead with us. “Yes, and so much more, ” we reply because the empty, farcical optimism in all these movements scares us more than the supposed hopelessness we articulate to our friends and family. Perhaps it’s because we have a sense of what it is to be human at the very core. That the best thing for humans will always be a fellow human whether parent, spouse, child, colleague or friend. That maybe there is something transcendent in being human which is both human and beyond human at the same time. That there is profound worth in being human and that this is what modern technology is devilishly trampling upon. To me this is what Psalm 139 profoundly speaks to…to be “fearfully and wonderfully made”.

    I will stop rambling as you are a much more articulate writer than I am. But thank you so much for writing and for baring your soul on this little spot of reality on the internet. You are so beautiful, heart-warming and inspiring. Wherever you end up, please keep writing. You have many friends…they are just widely scattered right now but maybe someday we will connect. God bless you and your journey. Keep asking, seeking and knocking and I knew He will lead you to healing.

  11. Andrea says:

    Thank you for writing this beautiful post. Please remember that you are not alone, you are just changing clans at the moment…. And please consider publishing your work so that more people can enjoy your magnificent writing. Loved everything but especially the vagina dentata imagery – had not heard of it – as it seems to be a strong influence in this new world where biological men get “proper” neovaginas while biological women get cancelled because they don’t know what being a woman means. Maybe all those teeth down there? Sending you much love.

  12. J says:

    Just reading the top portion, your writing makes me laugh, cry and most of all lets me know that I am not alone. I am experiencing much of the same, although I’ve not had to deal with losing my parents TG… but my life is rather held together with a flimsy thread over staunch opposition views and not wishing to waste away my life on empty shows, empty conversations or empty friendships and yes, it sucks. But I thank you for sharing your story, your journey and just know that in doing so you have kindred spirits out there that need to hear these trials and tribulations. Your words are comforting and well appreciated. I love that you cut up your wedding dress and used it for quilt scraps. You crack me up Alison and now I want to finish reading your post. Peace, love and brown rice I used to say… until then,

  13. Tracy Smith says:

    I so look forward to reading your post. I crossed paths with you via social during a time of loss and truly loss of direction in my life. I at the time had just left education, because the system left my Autistic son behind. I stumbled on to a tweet and that was all she wrote. Changed my life and I do many things now that I did not do before. Life changing experience to have come across your work, your words, the difficult heavy things happening in your life and journey through it have all impacted me. No one near me understands and when I try to share your works with family, they don’t get it either, think I have gone off the deep end. Nature has me grounded now in so many aspects of my life. Your words are impactful and may you have many more days to share with others and people like me. The best connection in the world is connection, connection to nature and other humans. Empathy and compassion for life and the life of others. I also turned 50 this year at a time of great loss, not the greatest time to have all these moving parts moving so rapidly and having to make choices and decisions, it’s all overwhelming. I seem to be coming out of the hormonal rage that I have been stuck in for past three years and I just want to succeed in finding the right place for my son, so when I am no longer present, he is on the best footing to have a full independent life and a happy one. He is a nature lover always has been, from the first day he picked up a stick that had all this stuff around it from the ground, any parent would be like put that down. My son had spoken for the first time in three years with that stick of stuff. He said, “Kentucky Yucky”. Where in the world did that come from. What a moment in my life from such an innocent little human being. After my son’s diagnosis of Autism, he went non-verbal and so to have words come out and words I had taught him. Really put me in a space of curiosity. I live life now as much as I can through the eyes of wonder and my son has shown me so much. Life has not cut us any breaks. But his presence has connected me to so much and your blog and post are one of them. Blessed we are to have connections, even if we don’t know we even have them with other humans. Thank you again for continuing to share your life and experience. Means a lot to me and I am sure many others. Take care in the meantime and may life and nature show you all you really need to know. I take comfort in knowing I don’t fear anything now. It’s a great spot to sit in, never had that in my life and helps me connect with others and sit with them and learn about their lives and experiences.

  14. washington sean says:

    Dear Alison,

    Thank you for composing this essay amidst your grief… a truly beautiful follow-up to your last post and a great example of how difficult it is to always remain true to your inner calling and intuition. As others have stated, you are not alone and you are loved by many far and wide. Blessings to you.

    In a way, what you’ve shared above has allowed me to dredge up much of the toxic sediment in my own life — and without too much detail, the similarities are striking. In your just beginning to process your grief after the loss of your father Jerry, you are helping me continue to process my own grief and its various embodiments. Is this how we can heal ourselves? By helping each other relive our pain and confusion and that awful feeling of being alone? I sense that I am not the only one who sees your words as a gift on my own healing journey.

    Coincidence, serendipity, synchronicity…and how do we come to understand such concepts in an increasingly confusing world? I am prone to doing a little (well, ok sometimes more than just a little) research after reading your posts. My first search hit on an interesting Thesis paper for a student at CUNY which I’ve only just skimmed through… it is titled “Rationality, Parapsychology and Artificial Intelligence in Military and Intelligence Research by the United States Government in the Cold War.” You might find a few puzzle pieces in there.


    An alley is, of course, a short-cut, a back way, or a less traveled way to get to ‘the destination’, sometimes it is even a secret path that someone has found by accident, or a route that was intentionally set up but not yet made public on all the maps. Certainly, alley ways are well known to the locals and the insiders but not necessarily familiar to those navigating the terrain for the first time.

    Alley 16 and the steps you have taken on it, are, therefore, not to be overlooked as you continue your journey.

    Some additional thoughts for you on the symbolism of the number ’16’… (just jumping off points I am not well studied in gematria)

    “The esoteric meaning of the number 16 indicates you have recently acquired new knowledge and face a decision. You will need to call upon qualities such as strength and self-control. In the case of addiction, the 16 will appear if you have taken the decision to quit.” [Think here how you have ‘QUIT’ the ‘GAME’]

    “Unravelling of the Number 16 in Corporeality, Percussion, and the Bengali Hindu Cosmos: The Experience of the Body/Mṛdaṅga”

    How to conduct a traditional 16-step Hindu puja

    According to one site, Jakob Boehme (Bohme) the ‘first’ German philosopher, considered 16 to represent ‘The Abyss’ (the opposite of Nirvana).

    A numerologist and gematria enthusiast on his site wrote that the Number 16 is associated with “magic, using one’s mind to change reality, being in touch with the Universal Mind, theoretical physics” in a lengthy article.


  15. Erica says:

    Wow. Just wow. This is the first time reading your blog, and although I have very little knowledge of this gamer simulation cyborg world you describe, when I do come across its surfaces, it hurts and cuts deeply. Like I understand from my ancient bones how distorted and fraudulent it is. I’m surrounded by people glued to their phones, and just that feels cold, calculated and lonely. In reading this piece of your recent painful experiences, I feel less alone and a longing too. Why do we all seem so scattered and few?

    Thank you dear one.


  16. Poeme says:

    Hi Allison, your story resonates so much with me. We share similar family dynamics. Very similar.
    In time, you will find that the liberation you have been given by your family is a gift for you. I know.
    It feels like a rejection now. But there’s an old saying, “Rejection is God’s Protection”.

    I’ve walked in your footsteps, experiencing my families rejection because I “wrong think”. Love unconditionally as you do, and let the rest sort themselves out as well. Most people cannot survive the dichotomy of being told their “reality” is completely manufactured. They don’t have the strength, cognitive abilities or will to navigate those channels. Truth is, it’s not an easy path for anyone. Thank you for following your muse and bringing us closer to the truth than we’ve ever been shown.

    Sending you blessings on your journey and I hope you find your homestead in nature and it fills you with joy.

  17. Graeme Helfrich says:

    Our dad’s died on almost the same day and we had a similar non involved relationship with them for similar reasons and similar love from a distance! I appreciate your eloquent way of expressing it! I’m comforted by a vision of him, in the place beyond, being able to see, mostly being able to see me, being happy finally after a rather difficult lifetime successfully completed. We are because of them!

  18. Rou says:

    Dear Alison, this is one of the most honest, loving things I’ve ever read. I can hardly bear to read and have to stop to catch my breath. Your heart is so big with love and courage and a deep spiritual intelligence. God must love you so much, if even little me across the world can feel such love fir your journey. The externals are crumbling but you are at one with your heart. You didn’t betray yourself. You give me courage and most of all, hope in the great unknown that many of us are facing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us all out here. God bless.

  19. TT says:

    You are always welcome here in our home, Alison, and you can bring along anyone you want. We are in Michigan. Maybe instead of that California tour to trace the roots/routes of the delusional, you and Jason can take another kind of tour. Seems like Maine, Montana and Michigan are open so far. Big hugs!

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